The year 1967 marks the anniversary of important events that took place over the centuries. It was, for example, in the year 67 that the two great apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul suffered martyrdom. A thousand years later in 1067, William the Conqueror left the coasts of Normandy and completed his conquest of England. In 1867, the Canadian Provinces were united in Confederation under one government, of which we celebrate the first centenary this year.
The year 1967 marks another centenary that closely touches the readers of Le Petit Courrier (a local newspaper founded by Désiré d’Eon). In fact, it was in 1767 and the years that ensued that we saw the birth of our Acadian villages in the counties of Yarmouth and Digby. In 1767 a certain number of Acadian families came to establish themselves in the county of Yarmouth, and have since left us their names and a rich history and culture. It was also the year that Joseph Dugas ventured to the coasts of Saint Mary’s Bay to choose a site where he would settle with his family the following year.
Of these pioneers, some were exiled to Massachusetts while others had been able to escape deportation, but not the imprisonment they would endure in Halifax, Annapolis, Pisiquid (Windsor), or Fort Cumberland. Some had succeeded in hiding during the hostile times, thanks to their ingenuity and the benevolent hospitality of their Native American friends.
The Treaty of Paris in 1763, while putting end to the Seven Year War and establishing peace between France and England, did not put an immediate end to the hostile intentions of the Nova Scotian government towards the Acadians.
It was only in the following year that this same government, by an act of 28 September, authorized the right of “the French inhabitants to become colonists of the province”, provided their willingness to pledge an oath of allegiance. Fifty arpents of land would be assigned to each head of family and ten arpents for each of the other members, but only if these lands were at a distance from the sea. This was an attempt to prevent any relationship between these colonists of French descent and those on the island of Saint Pierre et Miquelon. Also, it was stipulated that the number of families permitted to establish themselves would be limited so that the southwest region of the province would receive no more than thirty of these French families.
These limiting clauses, which we will note were never observed, surely discouraged the brave Acadian men who eagerly returned to their birthplace dreaming of large tracts of land that they could cultivate and bequeath to their children, living near the coasts where they could fish and easily communicate from one place to another. But tired from their travels, prison, or a wandering life, they decided, a certain number at least, to move to the south of the province where they would found the first establishments. These, after two centuries, have become the Acadian villages found today in the counties of Yarmouth and Digby.
However, these families were not the first Acadians to establish themselves in the county. They had been preceded by Joseph Moulaison, who had settled in Buttes Amirault three years earlier in 1764, which must be regarded as the first Acadian village to be founded in southwest Nova Scotia after the Expulsion.
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In this same year, 1767, another significant village was founded, that of Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau, which seems to have been an extension of the settlement of Rocco Point. It was here that Joseph, Pierre and Louis Mius were established with their parents. Joseph would die a bachelor. In the same year, Pierre married his cousin Cecile Amirault, sister of Marguerite (wife of Pierre LeBlanc); Abbot Bourg would authorize him to perform baptisms and to receive the consent of those who wished to marry during the absence of the priest. Louis is known better by his eldest son, also named Louis, known as “P’tit Louis” or “Pee Wee”.
It seems that Pierre LeBlanc settled in the vicinity of Rocco Point but more towards the top of the river, after his return from exile with the above mentioned. The older ones will remember Pierre’s son, Honoré, whose posterity multiplied “like stars of the sky and the sands on the shore”; Joseph, nicknamed “Guelou”, is still mentioned quite often, especially in Abram’s River; and Charles, who the Father Sigogne would choose as his sexton.
In 1776, one could already count ten buildings in Rocco Point, four in the east of Abram’s River, and thirty-two from there towards what is now called Lower Eel Brook, passing by what the older ones had continued to call “Poccadiche”. According to many historians, the families of Jean Bourg, Dominique Pothier, Joseph Babin, and Pierre Surette, arrived in Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau in 1967; though according to the registers of Abbot Bailly, these Acadians were still in Halifax in 1769 (Campbell, Yarmouth, page 73)
Despite those records, on 5 October 1767, in response to 18 families known as “the Acadians from Cape Sable”, a region that extended from the coast, starting from the surroundings of Barrington and reaching an area near Yarmouth, who requested land on which to establish themselves, the Halifax government chose “to give them land in the vicinity of Barrington and Yarmouth, on the condition that these families take the oath of allegiance”. Following this, other Acadian villages would be founded throughout the county of Yarmouth.
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To which Amiraults are the Buttes Amirault (Amirault’s Hills) indebted for their name? It is certain that Jacques Amirault (son) settled there permanently in 1767. But there are many clues that suggest Ange Amirault, regarded as the principal founder of Pubnico-Est (East Pubnico), initially accompanied his elder brother to the Hills, which would bear their name henceforth; indeed his son, Cyriaque, born on 21 November 1767, was born “in the Tousquet River of Cape Sable”, according to Abbot Bailly. The same can be said of Abel Duon, regarded as one of the founders of Pubnico-Ouest; Father Bailly helped to deliver his son Augustin, 10 August 1768 “in Tousket”. Incredibly, it would seem that Abbot Bailly confused Tousquet with Pobomcoup. Let us say that Cyrille, the eldest son of Joseph d’Entremont, born 4 March 1767 “at Cape Sable”, must be considered, according to our documents, as the first Acadian child born in southwest Nova Scotia after the Deportation.
It was in 1767 that the Belliveaus settled East Pubnico. If Ange Amirault did not settle there that year, we can assume that he came the following one, as he had been established there in the summer of 1769 when Abbot Bailly visited the area. It is said that his father and his mother lived with him, in a house built piece by piece on the land currently occupied by the company Sealife Fisheries Limited.
As for Abel Duon, if he did not come to West Pubnico in 1767, he was there when Father Bailly made his visit in 1769. It is certain that Joseph d’Entremont settled there in 1767, probably in the springtime, with his family, his mother, and his two brothers, and that he built a house piece by piece at the current location of the consolidated school. This area was then called l’Île-de-Grave. The parents of these d’Entremonts wrote them from France: “Your mother says that you are settled on l’Île-de-Grave. Is it [because] the English took the old dwellings that you haven’t returned there?” Yes, it was the case. However, Paul and Benoni, who married after this date, would have preferred to settle near the area where he had been born, towards Shelburne and Barrington. But they ended up settling in West Pubnico: Paul perhaps on the highlands in the south of the Point du Marais, where in 1776 we find four buildings; and Benoni near the site of the old church and the old cemetery, where he built a house in 1799 that is still standing and is the oldest in West Pubnico. Abel Duon, in turn, established his house a little to the north of Joseph d’Entremont’s.